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Events lead up to Stampede

Community rodeo, gymkhana are on tap


The Elizabeth Stampede is a couple of weeks away but the community rodeo on May 19 and gymkhana on May 20 traditionally launch the events that are part of the May 31-June 2 Stampede.

“The community rodeo and gymkhana have been part of the Stampede for a long time,” Jace Glick, Stampede president, said. “The community rodeo usually attracts quite a few local competitors. The rodeo includes traditional events as well as what are called ranch rodeo events.”

The ranch rodeo is a four-member team competition during which competitors are timed to complete activities like milking a cow and loading a cow into a trailer.

“The gymkhana has always been a big event with a lot of entries and we expect it will be a big event this year,” Glick said. “The gymkhana included the usual events like barrel racing and other equestrian events, and we also plan to have mutton-busting.”

An equestrian gymkhana is defined as a number of timed speed events that includes, but isn’t limited to, barrel racing, pole bending and keyhole racing. In each event the rider guides his or her horse through the pattern of obstacles as quickly as possible. The rider with the fastest time wins.

Mutton-busting is for riders 7 years old or younger who climb on the back of a sheep released into the arena. The idea is for the rider, who holds on tightly to the animal’s pelt, to stay mounted while the animal tries to dump the rider. The race is either to the end of the course or for a specified time, usually eight seconds.

Kiowa resident Trevor Smith, the rough stock coordinator for this year’s community rodeo, is gathering the entries for the event. The rough stock events are bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding.

“So far, we have about half-dozen bull riders signed up for the rodeo, about the same for the saddle bronc riding and three bareback riders,” he said. “Most of our entries are local, but I expect we will get some other entries from other areas before the event.”

Smith and fellow Kiowa resident Will White are partners in a company that provides bucking horses for rodeos around the state, including the Elizabeth Stampede community rodeo. His company is working with another company to provide the bulls, he said.

“We raise our bucking horses from the time they are colts,” he said. “Like racing horses that have the heart to run and run fast, a good bucking horse has the heart to buck and buck hard.”

Contrary to what some people believe, he said, bucking horses are not wild.

“The horses are all manageable and some are halter-broken,” White said. “But bucking is what these horses do, and most do it very well. They have the energy and strength so they are ready to explode out into the arena when the gate opens and test their rider’s ability to stay on their backs.”

For more information, go to elizabethstampede.com.


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